Service Providers

A look back at a consumer debacle

Scenario (based upon a real customer service call center report) – A man visits a dealership with the intent of purchasing a motorcycle. He has been saving so that he can purchase the bike with cash. But from the moment he walks into the dealership, he feels judged. He gets the impression the salesperson that approaches him does not treat him as a serious potential buyer. In fact, the salesperson talks a lot about financing, and how much more difficult the loan approval process has been for the past year or so. The customer never once suggested a need for financing. In fact, the customer had already decided which motorcycle he wanted to buy and stood ready to purchase that motorcycle that day. He ended up, however, feeling so offended by the salesperson’s conduct that he chose to go home instead. Luckily, the salesperson had entered the potential customer’s information into the store’s CRM system. The dealership employed a third-party call center that called the person within 15 minutes of his departure from the dealership. This gave the customer the opportunity to vent his frustration with the salesperson. It also gave the call center the ability to quickly inform the dealership’s sales manager of what transpired.

What now? – This is a job for the sales manager or general manager from this point forward. The salesperson had their chance.  In fact, the salesperson should stay as far away from this reclamation project as possible. The manager needs to call the potential customer and attempt to bring them back to the dealership, but not suggest an excuse for the salesperson’s conduct. Offer a sincere apology, and focus the conversation on moving forward. The conversation might sound like this:

Manager: “Sir, I have been made aware of the situation you encountered here at our dealership, and I apologize for that experience. There is absolutely no excuse to treat a customer that way. I want to see if there is anything I can do to win back your business. I can assure you that I will give you the best deal possible, and I will personally make sure that your experience with this dealership is exceptional from this point forward. Will you make an appointment with me to come back in and discuss this?”

Lesson learned – Two age-old lessons can be learned here. First, do not judge a book by its cover. Many salespeople truly feel that they can judge a potential customer as he/she walks through the door. That feeling is not only arrogant, it is wrong. Treat everyone the same. It’s the only workable policy. Secondly, messages do not get received that are not sent. A salesperson may think they are connecting with a customer when in fact they are offending them. Salesperson/customer interactions must always be viewed from the customer’s perspective. It does not matter what the salesperson is trying to say. It matters what the customer is hearing.

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  1. I almost always feel the same way as your fellow in this article. I walk in, and they instantly judge me by my flannel shirt and frumpy appearance. What they don’t understand is that even though I could probably pay cash for the dealership they work for, I am still tight with the money. I want to be treated with respect and am very offended with the financing pitch. I once walked into a dealership (H-D) that we previously sold 25 years ago, only to have the salesman pitch the financing on a new Harley.

  2. It’s too bad that I only “feel” this when I enter a Honda Powerhouse store or some other “MEGA DEALERSHIP” that has recently expanded to try to match with Honda…Too much overhead seems to mean, buy something or get out…and that’s TOO bad !

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